At about 12 km west of Battambang town there are several hills locate near to each other, they are Phnom Sampoev, Phnom Kroper, Phnom Trung Morn, Phnom Prung Tea, Phnom Rumsay Sork. There is a legend relates to the names of these hills that have been told throughout generations of Khmer people. The story goes that:
There was a king name Rajakola (រាជកុល) had his royal place along the Dongrek mountain range. He felt in love with a beautiful girl named Sovann Masa (សុវណ្ណមសា) who was a daughter of a poor farmer family. Sovann Masa had a pet as a big crocodile and named it Athuna (អាធន់). This crocodile has strong power with its huge body, and he would do anything ordered by his owner, Sovann Masa. In fact, Athuna was born from an egg which Sovann Masa has picked up in the forest and brought home. After a while, the egg hatched out a crocodile, Sovann Masa felt pitty for it, so had brought it up as pet.
After a period of time that Sovann Masa has become lover of Rajakola, the king felt out of mind toward her and wanted to find another woman with his reason that Sovann Masa has origin from a poor farmer family that she’s not suitable to be entitle a queen of him.
In Chanborei city which located quite far away, the king there has a princess named Preah Neang Rumsay Sork. The princess has celestial hair, she simply grasp her hair with fingers and wish for what she wanted. Even the wish of drying the sea or turning the land into a sea also could become true.
The parent of king Rajakola has sent a letter to father of Preah Neang Rumsay Sork to ask for his daughter to be the queen of their son. The request has been accepted and Rajakola was very happy. He ordered his people to prepare the engagement gift into a ship and travel to Chanborei.
When Sovann Masa knew about this, she was very angry and ordered her crocodile, Athuna, to sink the ship on the way, so that Rajakola couldn’t meet Preah Neang Rumsay Sork. Athuna received the order and hurriedly swam to follow the ship. When he was near the ship, Rajakola saw him and he shouted out: “Hey Athuna, this is me, you can’t do anything harm to me.” “Only those who feed me that I listen to.” Athuna replied.
All the people on the ship were very frighten because they saw the crocodile was too big and mean. They took all the vegetables and other foods throw into water, even the chicken and duck in the cage, to feed Athuna. But the crocodile didn’t eat at all. Rajakola tried to calm down and prayed to God to protect him from this danger.
With sincere praying, he’s got the help from angel, in which an angel informed Preah Neang Rumsay Sork about the danger of Rajakola facing. Immediately, she grasped her hair and wish that the sea drying into land. So the crocodile got stuck in the ground and died. The body of Athuna has become a big mountain called Phnom Kroper (crocodile mountain) until today. While he was trying to release himself from the ground, Athuna waved his tail strongly and took a big breath, created two large lakes by these. The two lakes were named Crocodile Tail Lake and Crocodile Nose Lake.
The ship of Rajakola also became a mountain which has the shape of the real ship called Phnom Sampoev, The Ship Mountain. The chicken cage and duck cage that was through into the sea to feed Athuna also became small hills near there, and they are named Phnom Trung Morn (Chicken Cage Hill) and Phnom Trung Tea (Duck Cage Hill).
After the sea has been turned to be the plain, Rajakola and his people continued their way by walking. The place in which Preah Neang Rumsay Sork has grasped her hair also grew out a mountain, and it’s named Phnom Rumsay Srok (hair grasping mountain).
Until today, some parts in Cambodia still have a tradition of offering the spirit of the village in which they believe that each village have a sacred spirit to take care all of the villagers. The offering take place during the beginning of rainy season in Cambodia (usually in May), which is also the starting of planting various crops, mainly rice paddy. The purpose of offering is to get enough rain falls and to insure fertility of soils, so that they can have a profitable harvest.
The offering items included rice, foods, snack or cake, and the prepared areca and betel. All of the offering items are placed in a container called ‘chrom’ (ច្រម). Chrom is made of a portion of bamboo tube of about 1.5 meter long. One end of the bamboo tube is split into many pieces made it like a bloom flower for supporting the offering items. Another end is made into a sharp-end for planting into the ground. The place of praying the village’s spirit is at their rice fields or farm fields.
Khmer legend relates to the offering to the village’s spirit
The tradition of offering to the village’s spirit is said to be started since the time of Buddha, but during that time, the offering is for a female giant in order to ask her about the process of the rain falls. Time passed by, the tradition has changed to be the offering to the village’s spirit. However, the offering‘s purpose remains the same, it’s for a good harvest time. There is a legend in the Thommabot book, a scripture in the Buddhist canon. The story goes that:
There was a man who was very wealthy. Unfortunately, his wife couldn’t bear him any child. His mother was very worry that he doesn’t have anyone to take care of his wealth. The worry finally known by his wife, she thought: “If my husband married another wife and they have children, his second wife could be the house owner and control over the properties here. Then I will be nothing in this house. Thus, instead of my mother-in-law, I must be the one who going to find the second wife for my husband, so that the woman would respect and be under my control as I am her predecessor.
After thought so, the wife asked for permission from her mother-in-law to marry one more wife for her son. Not so long after the new wife arrived, she was pregnant. But her pregnancy was spoiled because the first wife put some kinds of medicine in her foods to kill the child. The second time of pregnant was also spoiled in the same way. At the third time, the medicine has not only killed the child but also caused danger to the mother. In the last moment of her life, the second wife knew that all the dangers she has had were caused by the first wife. So she wished that in any life she born, she could eat her children for revenge.
Then in the next life, the second wife had born as a cat, and the first wife had born as a hen. The cat ate all the eggs of the hen. So this time the hen made a wish before her dead that, in the next life she could eat the child of the cat.
So the next life of them, the cat had born as a female deer and the hen had born as a tiger. Whenever the deer give birth to her child, the tiger come to eat it.
In the fourth life, the tiger had born as human being named Kol Thida and the deer had born as a female giant. When Kol Thida give birth to her child, the female giant transformed to be an old lady came to visit her, then steal away her child and ate as her food. Until the third child, she carries her child together with her husband went to take bath at a pond. While she was waiting for her husband near the pond, she saw the female giant and she knew that she would take away her child, so she run way carrying her child in hands.
Run and run, then she has arrived Wat Chetapun, the monastery in which Lord Buddha was there, and he was preaching to his principals. She run into Lord Buddha and put her child close to Lord Buddha’s feet, asked him to protect her child from the female giant. The female giant followed up from behind, but there were so many people inside the monastery that she dare not to go in, just stand outside the monastery wall. Lord Buddha told Anun, his principal, go out to call the female giant to get in. The female giant came in and saluted to Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha has told them about their past lives and preaching to all about “The vindictiveness could not end by being vindictive”(ពៀរមិនអាចរំងាប់ដោយពៀរ). Lord Buddha asked them to finish their revenge from now on and let them to be sisters.
The female giant came to live with Kol Thida as the instruction from Lord Buddha. She has ability to know the rain falls. So she always told Kol Thida how to plant crops to be suited with the rain falls each year. Not so long, Kol Thida became wealthy because of good harvest every season. The villagers saw that, come to ask for her method.
From that time on, before the planting season started, the villagers will offer many foods to the female giant in order to ask her about the rain falls.
Later the female giant feel bore to be in the village, she asked Kol Thida to stay far away in the field. She agreed and built a house for her in the field outside the village. Even though, where she was, the villagers still find her, offer her foods, and ask her about the rain falls.
The tradition of offering to the female giant, after she died, the villagers still prepare the same offering times and pray to their village’s spirit or the spirit of the field for good harvest.
From ancient time, there were for men who were very stupid. One day, they have agreed to take an adventure together. On their way, they caught five turtles, then they started to share the turtles, after sharing, there was one turtle left. They all felt unfair and shared again, this time they still have one turtle left. They don’t know what to do, sitting and looking at each other with their dullness.
Meanwhile, there was another man arrived and saw the four idiots sharing their turtles. The man laugh at them and said: ‘ you all seem not skillful in sharing.’
‘Oh please, if you could help us to share these turtles equally.’ The four idiots talked to the man.
Then he sat down near the four idiots and took the biggest turtle to be his seat. So there were only four turtle left, he gave to the four idiots one turtle each, all of them accepted happily. ” You are very talent, can you teach us? ”
The man replied: ” I can, you just need to recite the phrase.” The four idiots agreed and each of them have different phrase to recite.
The first idiot recite that: To pick up a fruit on the tree, we need a tool. (ទំពក់វាទៅទើបព្នៅវាមក)
The second idiot recite that: Water only flows in its channel. (មានប្រឡាយទើបទឹកវាហូរ)
The third idiot recite that: The dog treated the place with rubbish as toilet. (មានសំរាមទើបឆ្កែវាជុះ)
The fourth idiot recite that: It’s true, that’s why they say. (មែនទើបគេថា)
After then, the four idiots go on their journey to another village. Soon they arrived the house of an old widow and they were allowed to rest over night there. The whole night, the four idiots kept reciting their phrases until sunrise. The house owner got very angry and complaint to the villager head, request him to bring the four men into the court.
Then the four idiots were brought to meet the village head: ” why you all kept reciting something the whole night that caused this old lady couldn’t sleep? Now read out to me. ” The village head ordered.
The four idiots read out their phrases. After listened, the village head has rendered the case that, the four idiots must become servants of the old lady. So as he said, the four idiots stay and work for the old lady for anything she orders.
A few month later, one day they were ordered to cut timber for making a boat. The four idiots went into the forest and looked for any tree with hole on tree trunk. Until they reached the deep forest, they saw a big tree with hole, so they started to cut it. After a while, when the tree was nearly fall down, they shout that: ” hey, the tree is nearly fall down, anyone go to hold it, in case it break out that cannot use to make boat.” One person among them run to support the tree trunk and when the tree felt down on him, he died with his mouth showing teeth. The other three idiots laugh and said: ” hahaha, he is pretty strong, he can support such a big tree trunk and even laughing.” Waited for a while, didn’t see the dead man get up: ” hey, hurry get up, we are hungry now!” Still he didn’t get up, they went to check out and knew that he has died. They were very frighten and discussed that: ” If someone see us here, they would say that we kill him.” They all decided to escape.
Back to the village when it was dark, they didn’t know where to go. At the dock of the old widow has a boat, so they thought they would take this boat to cross the river to the opposite bank. The three of them, one sat at the head of the boat, facing to the boat head. The other sat at the back of the boat, facing to the boat back, each held a paddle rowing. The third man sat at the middle of the boat, drying water from the boat.
One whole night, they kept rowing, but the boat still at the same place, because they haven’t release the boat that was tied with the dock. Until morning, the old lay came out and see the three men on boat: ” hey, do you want to escape? ” The lady asked.
See the lady who was their owner, they didn’t know where to go, so at last they stayed and be her servants again.
All the nations in the world have their own legend stories, the stories that were created and told from generation to generation. Some stories are attached with the teaching purpose of how to be a good person living in this world. Khmer also has many legends of this kind, and the elders always tell their youngsters from time to time. Below is one of the Khmer legends that also consist the teaching meaning.
There were two men living next to each other. One day, they had a date to lay trap for animal in the forest together. Until late afternoon that day, they started their journey. Continue reading
Ancient Khmers has a tradition that whenever a girl is reaching puberty, she is kept in the house and not allowed to go out under the sun, until she is married. This is a period of time that she stay only in the shade (house) to learn the characteristic of a perfect woman (srey krob leak) who would become a good housewife and she also growing with beauty because she would has got white skin by not going out in the sun. Girl who has been living in the shade are considered as good girl and many men would want to marry her.